The center will offer services for trauma, health, and mental health problems for at-risk youth.
“My heart is filled with so much gratitude and love for my Mom, and for everything she did for this community for so many years,” said Nicole Avant about the late philanthropist, Jacqueline Avant.
On Friday, April 28, Avant unveiled the Jacqueline Avant Children & Family Center located in the Watts-Willowbrook community. The event was attended by Los Angeles Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, staff of the MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation and a host of notable guests which included Ted Sarandos, Clarence Avant, Alex Avant, Holly Robinson Peete, Rick Caruso, Jimmy Jam and more.
“She believed that mental health was a combination of physical, emotional, spiritual health,” said Avant. “The fact that it’s all here under one roof – I’m thrilled.”
The three-story and 50,000 square feet facility will offer programs addressing trauma, health, and mental health problems for at-risk youth. Currently, services are available on the first floor with the second floor opening to the community in the summer. The third floor will be finished by the end of the year.
The County of Los Angeles invested $55 million to build the new center that will serve thousands of children and teens, including many who are entering or involved with the county’s foster care system.
“This is a place of dynamic transformation, partnership, investment and healing,” said Mitchell. “The center embodies the vision, compassion and the healing care and support that Mrs. Avant… exhibited and promoted throughout her life.”
“I have known this family my entire life so this felt like the most fitting tribute to her legacy,” said Peete. “It’s a whole family of love, and philanthropy and the arts and so many other things.
“So, absolutely thrilled to be able to be here today.”
Thanks to the generosity of friends and supporters of Jacqueline Avant, and in partnership with the MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corporation, furniture, electronics, artwork, books, and equipment were purchased to support the operations of the first floor Pediatric Clinic, and additional funds have been dedicated to support programming, a playground and wrap-around services for the youth served at the center.
“When my Mom was doing this work, it was not for publicity obviously. This was not about a magazine cover, or Tweets, or Instagram — it was do the next right thing,” said Avant.
She continued, “Serve your community and your community can also be outside your community. Yes, she was in Beverly Hills for over 50 years but, she loved all of Los Angeles and knew that children all over L.A. – Black, White, Brown, Yellow – deserve really great healthcare and deserved care for trauma.”
The building will also house an Autism Wellness Center run by the Special Needs Network and a federally qualified health clinic operated by St. John Well Child Center on the second floor. On the third floor, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health will operate a crisis stabilization unit for children ages 3-12 that will be the first in the county to serve this population.
“These are the types of places you find on the west side,” said Peete. “You don’t see these types of centers for families in the community where we need that.
“When it comes to resources in the community, it’s all about access to them, so this is an amazing building that just gives the energy and spirit of Jacquie Avant.”
In a written statement, Earvin “Magic” Johnson shared, “I have had the pleasure of knowing and counting Jacquie, Clarence and the Avant family as close personal friends and confidants for as long as I can remember, and knowing them the way that I do, I know that the existence of this building and the services and resources that it will provide to the children and families of this community is a goal that Jacquie worked towards for many, many years.
“I have no doubt that every time a child walks through these doors, the spirit of Jacquie will be giving them a comforting hug, and that she will be looking down upon them with her loving smile.
“I want to thank Supervisor Mitchell, for her hard work, and all of you who have supported the building of this center and making it a reality in Jackie’s name. You may never know the magnitude of your contributions, but I can assure you that its impact on the health and wellness of the children of this community will be felt for generations to come.”
“I know my Mom is smiling down and her good works stand out,” said Avant.